By Rich Coutinho
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There has been so much chatter about the possible trade of Jose Reyes that I felt compelled to set the record straight.
Jose Reyes is the most unique talent in the game of baseball. He combines great defensive prowess with speed, agility, a power arm, and a passion to play the game that in my opinion is unmatched by any shortstop in baseball. The Met organization is fully aware of his value, to both the team and the Met brand. And Reyes loves it in New York and wants to stay–if the deal is right.
For that reason, I can not see him being dealt to another team in a rental situation. First of all, if a minority owner is in place by the deadline, everything could quickly change for the Mets in regards to available dollars to add high-ticket personnel. Secondly, both parties need each other. The Mets need Reyes because he is a GREAT player–not a good player, not a very good player–a GREAT player. When he is healthy, the Mets win and when he is not healthy they lose. When he scores a run, they generally win, when he does not score a run they generally lose.
And Jose needs the Mets. He grew up here and has been part of some successful teams and more importantly, David Wright and Reyes have always been connected at the hip. I have always felt both are part of the solution, not part of the problem. I will never forget that last game in 2008 and how hard Reyes took losing that day. At the time he said, “I love these fans because they have always been so good to me and they deserve to have a winner. I know they feel as bad as me because I know I let them down.” Now, does that sound like a player that doesn’t care.
I have gotten to know Reyes very well in the past few years and quite frankly, there is not a finer person in baseball. On Sunday, while most players were getting ready to play, Jose spoke about Mother’s Day and how every baseball player should do what they can to donate money for Breast Cancer Awareness because as he put it, “Your Dad teaches you to play but it is your Mom that makes sure you get to the field on time.”
There are a few players in this sport that have the “It Factor” as I call it–that passion for the game that makes you watch them, and Jose Reyes has that. More importantly, he can evoke passion from teammates. And we all know what a debilitating effect he has on opposing teams when he is wreaking havoc on the bases. When people suggest to me that Reyes is not worth the money I think about a conversation I had with him when he was going through his thyroid issues. We were sitting on the home dugout in Port St. Lucie, and Jose told me, “Rich, this is killing me because I can not remember a day in my life where I was not thinking about baseball and now I can’t think of it because it will drive me crazy.”
Now, I am no economic expert when it comes to team finances but I will say this–you can not put a price tag on that type of compelling passion, coupled with skills that you do not stumble across every day in baseball. So, before the Mets consider not retaining Reyes, they need to consider what they would be losing and how much money it will cost them down the road.
Losing him would be catastrophic–especially if he lands down the turnpike or–perish the thought–in Yankee pinstripes.